D'Agostini's injury might have a benefit for Penguins

PENGUINS NOTEBOOK



Matt D'Agostini has spent the first three-plus weeks of the 2013-14 season watching his new teammates.

That has to be more than a little frustrating for him, but it just might turn out to be instructive, as well.

D'Agostini, a winger who signed with the Penguins as a free agent this summer, had an unspecified injury during training camp and has spent a lot of time since looking down from the press box.

That, assistant coach Tony Granato feels, should have allowed him to absorb the finer points of the Penguins system.

"[He has] been able to watch now and kind of digest, system-wise, how we play," Granato said. "I think that's going to help him in the long run."

D'Agostini finally is eligible to come off Long-Term Injury Reserve and could be in the lineup tonight when the Penguins visit Toronto.

"I've been preparing for a while," he said. "Obviously, I've had a lot of time to get ready for this."

Coach Dan Bylsma has not committed to dressing D'Agostini against the Maple Leafs, although he easily could be plugged into the fourth-line niche that defenseman Deryk Engelland filled against the New York Islanders Friday night at Consol Energy Center.

When camp began, D'Agostini was penciled in for a spot on the third line, but his injury created an opening there for free-agent signee Chuck Kobasew, who has been working on the second line because of injuries to James Neal and Beau Bennett.

Ultimately, D'Agostini figures to settle on the No. 3 line, but the Penguins are expected to experiment with a variety of personnel combinations before finalizing their bottom-six configurations.

Don't write off Zatkoff

Even though Penguins goalie Jeff Zatkoff made just his second NHL start Friday night, that doesn't mean the Islanders lacked a good book on him.

New York defenseman Thomas Hickey, for example, got to know him pretty well in their days together in the Los Angeles organization. The two had dinner together Thursday night.

"I lived with him for a year," Hickey said. "Just a great teammate. A fun guy to be around. A guy that everyone likes."

Lackluster as Zatkoff's NHL debut was in a 6-3 loss Oct. 11 in Florida, Hickey cautioned against judging him solely on those 60 minutes.

"Just look at his body of work, especially in the [American Hockey League]," he said. "He's a really good goaltender, a guy who's used to playing a lot of games.

"It's tough when you're not playing on a regular basis. That makes it difficult, and he's not used to [it]. But I think once he gets a handle [on] that, he's capable. A really reliable guy."

Martinek makes debut

Whether defenseman Radek Martinek still can be effective at the NHL level remains to be seen.

That he really, really wanted a chance to try is hard to dispute.

Martinek, who has played 11 of his 12 pro seasons with New York, signed a one-year contract Wednesday with the Islanders and made his 2013-14 debut Friday night.

Martinek didn't give up after failing to earn a contract when he attended training camp on a pro tryout. What's more, he signed waivers every day for more than a week so that he could skate with the team for no compensation before getting his new deal.

The Islanders had a spot on their blue line open for Martinek, 37, after Lubomir Visnovsky got a concussion from a hit by Carolina's Radek Dvorak last Saturday and ex-Penguin Brian Strait was sidelined because of an unspecified injury.

Tip-ins

The Penguins healthy scratches were defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and forward Dustin Jeffrey. ... Bennett worked out on his own on the ice at Consol Energy Center before his teammates' game-day skate.

Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.


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